Saturday, November 6, 2010

Macha and smashed Lavender Creme Brulee

I had left over egg yolks, because I've got it in my head I'm going to make French Macarons.  The other recipe involves 6 egg whites, so rather than to let the yolks go to waste, I figured I'd bust out the kitchen torch and see what happens...

There are a number of different flavors I considered but I decided to twist it around and use macha (green tea powder) AND crushed lavender.  (In the past, I've also used thai tea, or vanilla beans or almond extract - all delicious options!)

So for this batch, stuff you'll need:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for topping
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon of macha powder
  • Roughly quarter cup of lavender flowers (crush them with a mortar and pestal to release the flavor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and put on a pot of water for the bain Marie.

In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat, add lavender flowers and macha powder.  Don't let the cream boil - you want it to get warm enough that you can smell the lavender and the macha powder can be incorporated (it'll just float on top of cold cream).  About 5 min.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until well blended - yolks without the whites won't gain volume so just make sure everything is well mixed.

Strain the cream to remove the buds from the lavender.  Slowly pour about a quarter cup of the warm cream into the egg mixture, while stirring - this process is calling tempering, and it allows you to mix the egg with the warm cream without scrambling the yolks!  

Once the yolks are tempered, you can whisk them back into the remaining cream mixture.  Now, I cheated a little bit here - the color wasn't what I wanted it to be, so I added just a touch of green food color - totally unnecessary step but I was going for a more distinguished green color.  So sue me.

You'll notice in the photos, I didn't use real ramekins - actually I found these cute little custard cups in SF Chinatown about a billion years ago, and I use these instead whenever I need ramekins.  They're cute and the come with matching lids...  Ramekins would be ideal, but any single serving oven save ceramic bowl should do the trick.

In a baking pan with high sides, place a dish cloth - this is going to help stabilize the ramekins when you bake. Place about six ramekins in the dish, and divide the creme brulee mix among them.  Fill the baking pan with boiling water so that it comes up about half way up the sides of the ramekins - if your oven has shelves that slide out, you may want to do it over there rather than trying to move a pan full of boiling water.  Safety first and all that!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min, or until the edges set and the middle is still jiggly.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool a bit then cover place in the fridge to cool even more.

Before serving, pour a bit of sugar onto the surface of the custard - tilt the dish around to coat the top.  

Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar to create that crunchy crust which is the primary reason to eat creme brulee in the first place. The kitchen torch might take some practice, I pretty consistently get darker sugar than I intend to, although I rather like the taste.  Let it cool for a moment to harden and dig in!



  1. YUM!!!! I love the combinations you come up with; what an awesome take on creme brulee. Not fair that I don't live closer to you! They look gorgeous too.

  2. Comment: Amazing. Love the blog Chi - but you know this.

    Question: How lavender-y are they, and what would you use as a substitute of lavender?

    Reason: I'm a massive fan of green tea/macha, but not of lavender. It scares the bejesus out of me (traumatic childhood lavender accident).

  3. Paolo - the lavender flavor is pretty delicate - I steep the flowers instead of grinding them, and take them out before blending the cream. The result is a suggestion of lavender more than anything - easily mistaken for citrus actually. And citrus would be a great alternative - a bit of orange or yuzu zest or sweetened azuki beans would really rock it!